By Norma Stanley
As the founder of Women in Jazz Global, which originated as Women in Jazz South Florida (WIJSF) 16 years ago, Dr. Joan Cartwright, a retired blues and jazz performer, is a passionate and vocal leader of a concerted movement, to ensure women musicians get their fair share of the $40 billion music industry pie, in terms of earnings and opportunity.
Also a composer, producer, college professor, podcast host and author of several books, Dr. Cartwright drew from her own extensive background as a musician and vocalist known as Diva JC, performing her brand of jazz and blues with musicians all over the world for more than 25 years.
“Over the years, I have traveled all over the world working with hundreds of male musicians like Trumpet Player, Freddie Hubbard; Dr. Lonnie Smith, a keyboardist and Lou Donaldson, a saxophonist, but have only worked with six women musicians during that time and this just bothered me, because I knew there were women just as or even more talented as musicians and composers as the men were, but weren’t being given the same opportunities,” shared Dr. Cartwright. .
Wanting to bridge the gap in the male-dominated music industry, Dr. Cartwright founded Women in Jazz South Florida, Inc. in 2007, to promote women musicians, globally. The organization is dedicated to promoting women in jazz worldwide, by offering a number of products and services to its members to help raise their visibility and secure more performance and financial opportunities. These include, but are not limited to networking contacts, articles, interviews for and about members, newsletters, events, courses, clinics, workshops, lectures, research, history, archives, websites, film, audio and video recording, concerts, performances and recognition. Of the nearly 500 musicians in our organization from over 20 countries, most compose and perform in the Jazz and Blues genre. However, many of their members represent other musical genres including R&B, Soul, Reggae, Hip Hop, Electronic, and Classical.
“It is imperative for people worldwide, to understand the importance of the messages in music created by women and the travesty that women earn only 20% of the $40 Billion music industry,” says Dr. Cartwright. “It is my firm opinion, that this inequity of earning and the barring of the messages in women’s music is harming mankind, in general, and women who dedicate their lives to creating and performing music, in particular,” she continued. “If we can increase the amount women earn by just 5%, that would be $2 Billion invested toward the musical production of women musicians in the form of performance fees, copyright royalties, and the selection of women’s music for films, TV, and concert performances.
Dr. Cartwright explained that currently, a jazz festival that features 18-20 acts, only headlines two to three women instrumentalists. Although singers are hired regularly by venues and band leaders, few women are hired. “This must change, especially, in events that are funded by public taxes. Until equity is reached, the public is actually funding discrimination against women musicians, which is unlawful in my opinion,” said Dr. Cartwright.
Also, the founder of Women in Arts and Business catalogs and Musicwoman and MusicMan magazines, Dr. Cartwright became interested in the stories and lives of female musicians who pioneered blues music years ago. In her book, Blues Women Blues, Dr. Cartwright shares stories of Eartha Kitt being blacked listed for speaking out against the Vietnam War and Josephine Baker, the only women to speak at the 1963 March on Washington. “A History of African American Jazz and Blues” contains her interview with Quincy Jones and her book, “In Pursuit of a Melody” contains 40 songs and lyrics to standard songs. These are among the many achievements about which Dr. Cartwright is very proud. Her Joan Cartwright Song Book was submitted to the Guinness Book of Records for designation as the "First woman in the world with a jazz and blues songbook." This book also contains two lectures that she's given to over 8,000 children and college students, in U.S., Switzerland, Sicily, China and Japan. In addition, her “Women in Jazz” and “So, You Want to Be A Singer?” books and workshops, highlight the pitfalls and benefits of the music business. Dr. Cartwright’s essays, articles, and interviews have been published locally and internationally online, in magazines, journals, anthologies, and newspapers. In 2014 she published the first Catalog of women in Arts & Business and 2019, the first issue of Musicwoman Magazine was published.
Dr. Cartwright’s career as a musician, performer, academician, mentor and entrepreneur, who holds a Doctor of Business Administration/Marketing and teaches Public Speaking, Graphic Design and Print Layout and Desktop Publishing online at Southern New Hampshire University, has also inspired her children, who are also musicians. ”My son and daughter are both members of WIJSF/Global and my daughter is the President of the Board, shared Dr. Cartwright. “In fact, she just organized our semi-annual fundraiser and magazine launch last month at the Reign facilities in McDonough, Georgia, which was absolutely amazing!,” she said. “We honored some leading musicians and entrepreneurs including Ragan Whiteside, a nationally acclaimed flautist, composer, and radio host at Jazz 91.9 WCLK in
Atlanta; Quiana and Damon Crump, co-founders of Reign Pads, and Melvin Coleman, founder of the Atlanta Black Chamber, to name just a few. The event also featured performances by musicians like Whiteside; Jazz Singer, Rita Graham; Saxophonist, Eric Giles; Papaduke the Poet (Cartwright’s granddaughter); poet/singer, Chrystal Doomes with guitarist Abyss, and R&B Singer, Jarvis Evans.
“Watching my mother pursue her goals and dreams as a performer and business owner, has inspired me to continue my mission as a musician, creative and businesswoman,” shared Johnson, who serves as president of WIJSF/Global and is a singer/songwriter, playwright and radio show host. “I look forward to helping her take WIJSF/Global into more countries, build the MusicWoman Archives and Cultural Center, and showcasing the many amazing women musicians around the country and the world, through our events and festivals,” she said.
Her mother enthusiastically agrees.
“Next on tap for WIJFS/Global, is to continue to grow our membership and support for our organization; publishing our magazines, producing our podcasts, and creating and producing the Musicwoman Festival in March 2024 in Atlanta, GA.,” said Cartwright. “The event will feature various musicians and performing artists from the MusicWoman Ensemble, and we also look forward to building the Musicwoman Archive and Cultural Center, which will work with state and federal legislators, to bring awareness and address the longstanding issue of inequity for women musicians,” said Dr. Cartwright.For more information about Dr. Cartwright and WIJSF/Global, go to www.wijsf.org,
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